The thing about Shazam is, DC once again proves that their solo flicks are all stellar and I could see this becoming one of the most rewatchable comic book movies ever made . Zachary Levi is perfect in this homage to movies like Elf and BIG.
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.
Nowadays it feels too cliche to sit here and write the word “fun” when it comes to a movie review for a DC Comics property. But here’s the thing, Shazam is a ton of fun, and it’s fun in all the right ways. People shake their heads, but this sudden drastic change in tone from the dark and gloomy days of Zack Snyder, which I will admit, at times I find myself missing. It’s this change of pace that makes this feel so refreshing, another word that gets tossed around like a Juul at a college party these days. These are the elements that make this movie so damn loveable, and something I feel like fans that want that change will instantly appreciate.
When the DCEU started and we got our first glimpse at the new Superman and Batman, it would’ve been hard to imagine Shazam getting his first solo flick before The Dark Knight got us, and we got a sequel to the fantastic Man of Steel. But here we are, and Billy Batson is now a household name, and I really couldn’t be happier. He’s such an interesting and unique character with a great story to tell. We all wonder what it would be like to gain superpowers, but what happens when that wish is granted and we’re merely 14 years old? Toss in the fact, your body transforms into a 30 something god-like figure, it could become really complicated for our young hero. How would someone who is not even old enough to drive a car or purchase alcohol handle becoming one of the most powerful superheroes in all of DC comic book lure? Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has been trying to find his mother all of his life. It’s his driving force and what motivates him the most. Bouncing around group homes, he has a hard time letting anyone get close, let alone consider anyone to be family. At the heart of Shazam, and one of the main reasons why the movie works so well is the theme of what it means to be a family. What family means to different people, and how to ultimately let go of the past. When Billy enters his new group home he quickly meets Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) his new foster brother and his new foster parents Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews). Now Jack Dylan Grazer is becoming one of the best all-around young actors today. His quick-nipped comedy and chemistry with both Zach Levi and Asher Angel is truly a bright spot for the film. Billy has problems staying in group homes and letting people get attached to him, but deep down he has a pure heart and knows what it means to do right by people. So when the old Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) picks him to be his next champion, it’s up to Billy and his newfound powers to help track down the 7 deadly sins. Billy alongside Freddy and the rest of their foster home siblings, Mary, Darla, Eugene, and Pedro help him discover what it means to be the hero the world deserves and what it means to act and be a superhero. The way director David F. Sandberg was able to pace the movie, and blend all these different genres together was quite impressive. Known for his horror movies, Shazam was darker than I thought it would be, and in some parts, you could get a sense of David’s horror background. Transitioning from comedy to horror and mixing in action is a tall task to ask of a director who hasn’t done something like that before, but David really proved his worth to WB here, and I hope they get a sequel out with him attached real soon.
Not all are pure of heart and when Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) was hand-picked when he was a young boy to become the champion, he was turned away due to his evil heart. When he grows into an adult he makes it his purpose to find this wizard again and take the power that he believes is rightfully his. Mark Strong plays a solid villain, it’s very much in his wheelhouse, this is now comic book villain number 3 for him. Another strong outing, no pun intended. One of the things I really liked about Shazam was how grounded it felt. There was no giant laser in the sky, or some wormhole opening up, it was a small story, about a group of people coming together to find out what it means to be a family and what it takes to be a hero. They borrow a ton from movies like Elf and BIG, and there’s even a moment where Shazam and Dr. Sivana are fighting on a giant piano. They weren’t afraid to steer in the direction of the movies they took inspiration from. All the scenes of Shazam and Freddy goofing around, figuring out what sort of powers Shazam possesses was so cute and heartfelt to watch. Zachary Levi captures the spirit and essence of a child to a tee. He was so well cast, I can’t wait to watch him interact with other DC heroes, he certainly will be a worthy addition to the Justice League.
Speaking of other Justice League members, I don’t want to spoil anything about this movie, because there is a lot of fun stuff within this movie, that I forgot was going to happen when I was watching. The final scene of Shazam is so much fun and it really is one of the coolest comic book scenes ever, but it could have been pushed over the threshold if DC didn’t wimp out. If you are going to do what they did, you have to go all-in on it. You can’t hold back and you can’t go half-assed with it. That’s just my opinion, you’ll understand what I’m talking about once you see the film. Overall, Shazam is so much fun and the best DC movie since Wonder Woman. At times I even liked it more than Wonder Woman because of how much fun I was having. It was a nice new origin story take, and I just wanted more when I left. Unlike Aquaman, I have seen him interact with other heroes, I just really need to see that with Shazam, sooner rather than later. But the motherload for this franchise is the fact that Dwayne Johnson will be showing up as Black Adam. His arch-nemesis and that will be the best thing to happen for the DCEU in a long time. They need to push this sequel ahead real fast because the world is ready for that showdown now, not 3 or 4 years from now.
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Shazam = 87/100